Missing hiker found at a hotel could be billed for search-and-rescue efforts

iStock/Thinkstock(GORHAM, N.H.) –The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said it may charge a hiker for search-and-rescue efforts after he was found staying at an upscale hotel.

The man, 70-year-old Christophe Chamley of Massachusetts, had told his wife he would be returning from his hike in the White Mountains on April 23. Chamley was still not home at 3:48 a.m. and his wife called 911, which triggered the search.

About three hours after the 911 call, the New Hampshire State Police located Chamley’s car at the Appalachian Mountain Club Pinkham Notch, but did not find him. Chamley, who has an undisclosed medical condition, did not leave his family a hiking itinerary.

By 10 a.m. that morning, a large-scale search was underway with rescue teams from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, the U.S. Forest Service, snowcats from the Mount Washington State Park and a National Guard helicopter.

During the search, authorities spoke with the Mount Washington Hotel and found out that Chamley had checked in at 1 a.m. Troopers went the hotel and found Chamley, who said he couldn’t complete his planned route and decided to go to the hotel instead. He said he had messaged his wife to let her know, but the message had not gone through.

Chamley said it wasn’t until he woke up the next morning around 11 a.m., due to exhaustion, that he became aware of the search.

A statement from Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue said, “Failure to communicate plans and confirm that loved ones had received his message that he was all right caused the reporting of him as overdue. That, coupled with his age and medical condition, caused an urgent response from Fish and Game when none was needed.”

New Hampshire Fish and Game is expected to submit the expenses to the state attorney general’s office for review and will later decide if Chamley will have to pay the bill for the search.

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